Internal Communications—Everybody’s Doing It (or Should Be)
By: Erin Robinson
When discussing internal communications programs with business owners and decision makers, two questions always come up:
- What types of companies need to have an internal communications strategy in place?
- Why is internal communications important?
Internal Communications For All
All companies. That’s the short answer to the first question. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an office of five or 500. Some level of communication from company leadership to employees is critical. For the five-person firm, this could be as simple as a weekly lunch to discuss how various projects are going and provide any updates on company direction.
For larger and/or geographically dispersed organizations, an effective internal communications strategy should be far more comprehensive and will likely have multiple components—ranging from company-wide meetings to regular email communications from the CEO. We’ll explore specific outreach methods a bit later. The bottom line? Reach out!
The Importance of Internal Communications
Engaging with employees at all levels of an organization is a critical leadership function. Employees who are informed about the direction of the company and organizational goals will be more engaged in their daily activities. Understanding that business leaders are working together toward a targeted, strategic goal(s)—and that each employee’s position is an important part of fulfilling identified objectives—will lead to a more dedicated, productive and happy workforce. A sense of purpose in the corporate “big picture” will go a long way.
It is also important to proactively keep employees informed of structural/operational changes within a company. Hearing about a new COO while congregating around the water cooler can have serious negative implications on a team of any size. When changes are being made, it is always important to consider how and when those changes will be announced to the company. Be strategic and pre-emptive…a reactionary response will be obvious to employees.
How Should You Communicate?
There are several simple, effective methods for internal communication. As stated above, with smaller organizations that are located in one office or adjacent locations, a regular in-person meeting can be extremely successful. Giving employees the opportunity to have some face time with company leadership—and each other—is always well received.
For larger and/or geographically dispersed companies, internal communications programs may consist of some, or all, of the following initiatives:
- Monthly or quarterly email communications from company leadership to relay company goals, brand voice, company differentiators and important announcements.
- Internal newsletter/e-newsletter/blog. The core purpose of an internal communications platform is that it allows for integration of multimedia components and corporate culture.
- Utilization of an Intranet as a “company news” platform. An Intranet can be more than dumping grounds for client files and process memos. It can serve as a corporate news outlet, a forum for knowledge transfer/information sharing and a vehicle for a regular leadership message.
- Employee events. For large organizations in particular, there may only be one opportunity annually to get all team members under one roof. Take advantage. There is no better time to communicate a company’s goals, direction, exciting announcements, and, of course, employee appreciation (more on that here: 3 Ways to Leverage Messaging in Your Next Corporate Meeting).
- Media maximization. While it is extremely important to share media relations successes with clients and prospects, it is also valuable to share them with employees. They will feel good about working at a company that is seen in the industry/market as a business leader, and the content of the media placement will very likely reinforce the company direction/value proposition.
So remember, internal communications isn’t just for huge corporations with thousands of employees. While there are certainly several effective strategies to communicate with employees, the important thing is to ensure that your team is informed, engaged and always in the know.
Do you have other advice on how to have successful internal communications within a company?